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OrthoArizona has 70 premier musculoskeletal specialists. The orthopedic surgeons and primary care physicians specialize in all areas of orthopedic care including sports, medicine, spine, shoulder and elbow, hand and wrist, hip and knee, foot and ankle, podiatry, trauma, industrial injuries and workers’ compensation.

Common Signs Your Broken Bone Is Healing

A broken bone can take a while to heal, and it does not always begin to repair itself immediately. Recovery times for injuries like this can often vary wildly from person to person, and it can sometimes be tough to identify when your broken bones are starting to mend themselves.

*Routinely follow up with your healthcare provider during the healing process.  Your provider may provide routine x-rays of the injury site and professional evaluation to determine the progress.

Considering that this healing process involves a lot of different steps and stages, it is quite common for people to not actually notice the healing results until the bone is already partially fixed. If you are not sure what to look for, then you might never actually be able to tell when the healing has started.

Identifying some of these common signs of a healing bone can actually be quite important. There are a lot of activities that you need to avoid while your bones are healing, and it might also become an important time to get extra rest or keep some emergency painkillers around just in case.

Decreased Pain

When a bone is first broken, the pain can often feel quite extreme, getting much worse if you put more pressure on the injured area. In extreme cases, this can be a seriously disabling pain that makes it hard to think of anything else, let alone move correctly.

If you notice the pain suddenly starting to decrease without having used any painkillers or other pain-relief methods, then there is a high chance that your bones are healing. If you have a cast around the broken bone to help stabilize it, then the pain might vanish almost completely.

Of course, this all depends on the severity of the broken bone and which part of your body the break was in. Some areas are likely to feel more pain than others due to the increased pressure in those spots, so you can’t always assume that the pain will vanish quickly.

Pain is not a good measurement of how quickly you are healing, but it can still be a good way to judge how serious the current level of damage is. As your bones heal, so will the pain, so you can usually use it to make an educated guess about how well your body has repaired the damaged bone.

Increased Range of Motion

As you might expect, a broken bone means that you are not going to be moving quite as much. If you have a seriously damaged bone in a major spot, then your range of motion will be reduced, which can sometimes be one of the first hints that your bone is broken in the first place.

As your broken bone begins to heal and starts to replace the damaged callus, your range of motion will begin to extend again, eventually going back to normal as long as the break heals correctly. This is a slow process, but it can happen with breaks anywhere in the body.

Remember that this gradual healing is not something you can rush. If your range of motion starts to increase again, you still need to be careful and take things slowly. If you try to push your body further than it can manage, then you might simply cause more pain or even make the healing process less reliable.

Your range of motion will eventually return to normal. In some cases, it can take a long time to recover your full range of motion completely, so do not be surprised if you can’t stretch a previously-broken and now-healed arm quite as far as you used to. Eventually, it should heal, as long as no other damage is preventing it.

Reduced Swelling

Swelling often happens immediately after breaking a bone since blood rushes to the area to aid healing. As you would expect, this means that a damaged section of bone will be accompanied by very obvious swelling – even if you can’t see it, you can definitely feel it.

Just like the pain you might feel from breaking a bone, the swelling will get less intense over time. If you notice your swollen areas starting to return to normal, then the callus is developing and slowly healing the broken bone, meaning that your body does not have to move as much blood to that area.

The rate of swelling (and how quickly the swollen areas recede) will always be different for each person, so it is not a good way to judge how far along the healing process you are. However, it can still be a good indicator of your healing is going well since the swelling only stops when your bones are healing.

As a side note, remember that the bone can still be sore and sensitive even if the swelling is almost all gone. Do not assume that your bones are healed the moment the swelling dies down – you should always treat a broken bone seriously until you are sure that it is completely healed.

Less Bruising

Bruising is not always going to happen when you break a bone, and some areas are much less prone to bruising than others. However, if you do bruise, then it can be a good way to get a vague idea of how far along the healing process you have gone.

The discolored skin created by a bruise generally happens due to tissue injury, and that tissue might not heal in the right way as long as your bones are still broken. This can mean that you will gradually see the bruising subside as you heal, although not always at a consistent speed.

Most of the time, you will notice the bruise changing color as your body absorbs the blood and begins to heal the damaged tissue. Eventually, it will begin to fade entirely, usually vanishing shortly before your bones are all healed (or, in some cases, shortly afterward).

Remember that bruises can be sensitive on their own, even without considering the broken bone that caused them. Be sure to treat your bruises carefully, and do not put excess pressure on them even if your bones are already fully healed. This will not have any serious consequences, but a bad bruise can still be very painful.

*Routinely follow up with your healthcare provider during the healing process.  Your provider may provide routine x-rays of the injury site and professional evaluation to determine the progress.

Speak with an Orthopedic Specialist Today

Are you suffering from a recent injury? Make an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists today to start your healing journey. OrthoArizona has nearly two dozen offices throughout the Valley, each focused on quality care, compassion, and excellent customer service. Since 1994, OrthoArizona has been dedicated to compassionate care of the highest quality.

The advice and information contained in this article are for educational purposes only and are not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or other educational medical material.